The day before yesterday, director John Bruno and Jim Cameron flew over the great blue Jacquinot Bay and its cradle of cloud-wreathed mountains. The fast-flowing rivers, stands of huge trees, shoreside villages, and sparkling blue waters have a land-before-time quality.
“This is not the Ring of Fire of television and books; this is the real thing.”
That’s what one of the crew members says as we head toward the entrance to Blanche Bay on New Britain Island. Ten of us are leaning against the bridge deck railing taking pictures of three purple volcanoes dominating the skyline ahead of the ship.
On board the Mermaid Sapphire on the Solomon Sea, 100 miles from Rabaul, Papua New Guinea
This is the last day of our 2,000-mile (3,219-kilometer) steam from Sydney, Australia, to Papua New Guinea. We’re five degrees south of the equator and heading northwest at 12 knots across a flat and windless ocean.
I’ve spent the past year thinking about the risks inherent in a complex expedition like this. On a working ship testing a new sub there are 50 ways to be hurt or worse.
This expedition is a master class in time and risk management. From sunup to midnight today, the 28-man sub team worked on and under the sub.